Colorado offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world, and snow amounts during major storms can be spectacular. Ski areas in the state vary widely, with everything from top-notch world-class resorts and seemingly endless terrain to singular, family-run operations that offer skiers some of the best hiking in the country. Finding the right resort usually comes down to personal taste, skiing preferences, skill level, budget, convenience of location, and even the time of year you want to ski.
Many of the major resorts are within a few hours of Denver, including Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Copper, Vail, and Beaver Creek. Aspen and Steamboat are a little further away but still within range of Denver. In Colorado’s more remote southwestern part, Purgatory and Telluride are located, along with a number of other smaller resorts. Unlike some Utah ski areas, all Colorado resorts are open to both skiers and snowboarders.
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1 Vail Mountain Resort
Vail is known as one of the greatest resorts in the world and home to some of the best terrain in Colorado. The seven back bowls are enough to make you change the rest of your ski plans for the entire season, as you could certainly spend an endless amount of time here. This is if you manage to drag yourself down the long groomed runs out the front, stretching up the hill overlooking the town of Vail. And there are certainly people who never venture into the back bowls.
The extensive and varied terrain means the mountain is suitable for all levels from beginner to advanced, and you can almost always find good conditions somewhere on the hill, whatever the weather. Beginners and intermediates tend to enjoy the groomed runs, more advanced skiers and experts will find excellent boom skis, moguls and steep back runs.
Vail isn’t as high as some of the area’s other resorts, but still gets a heavy amount of snow, with over 140 inches per season. Spread over 528 acres, the hill has 31 lifts, three terrain parks, and offers an extensive amount of grooming; great for beginners and experts.
The city of Vail caters primarily to high-end travelers, with luxury accommodations, fine dining, and high-end shopping. More affordable accommodations can be found in the surrounding towns, from Silverthorne and Frisco to Eagle. Many visitors fly into Denver and drive or take a shuttle to Vail, but the closest airport is the Eagle Vail Airport, about a 40-minute drive from Vail.
Official site: https://www.vail.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay near Vail Mountain
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2 Telluride Ski Resort
Located in a remote location in the San Juan Mountains, Telluride is one of the most scenic ski towns in the United States. Add to that a top-notch ski area with incredible terrain, consistently good snow amounts, and it’s no wonder Telluride has become such a popular vacation destination.
If you want a serious amount of vertical skiing, this is the place to come, with over 2,000 acres of terrain, a base elevation of 8,725 feet and a maximum elevation of 13,150 feet. The hill has a good mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced level runs, and experts will find a significant amount of hike-to-terrain for more extreme skiing. The annual amount of snow is about 300 inches.
A free gondola moves people between the town of Telluride and Mountain Village, meaning skiers staying in the village can get to town whenever they want, and it’s easy for skiers staying in town to access the ski hill. You don’t have to be on skis to take a ride on the gondola; anyone can go up and look around. Skiers staying in Telluride instead of Mountain Village can ski down to town when they’re done skiing or download them via the gondola. The runs from the top of the gondola to town are not green runs and are steeper than some skiers want to try, especially at the end of the ski day.
Official site: https://www.tellurideskiresort.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Telluride
3 Pick-up Pick Breckenridge Ski Resort
Breckenridge is the complete package, from groomed runs through the trees to extraordinary high alpine bowls that you can reach by lift. And with even a minimal amount of walking from the Imperial chairlift, you can access some excellent terrain. The scales on the top of the peaks are visible and can be intimidating when looking at the mountain from a distance, but they offer unprecedented skiing opportunities for advanced skiers. This is the place for anyone who wants to take his/her skills beyond average. But there’s plenty of terrain for everyone, with green, blue and black runs lower down the mountain, moguls here and there and beginner-friendly areas. This hill is quite easy to navigate, largely due to the fact that it is spread out along the front of a series of peaks.
The skiing here is high, with a base elevation starting at 9,600 feet. The Imperial Chairlift on Peak 8 is the tallest lift in North America and the height of the top of the hill is 12,998 feet. On spring days, when the bottom of the hill is soft, the top of the hill often has full winter conditions with excellent snow. For post-season skiing, Breckenridge is a good option. Keep in mind, if you’re flying into Colorado from a lower elevation, the altitude can sometimes be a challenge, especially on the first day.
Hillside dining is always very good in Breck. New this season is the Candy Cabin at the mountainside Ten Mile Station, featuring an array of treats for skiers with a sweet tooth.
Official site: https://www.breckenridge.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Breckenridge
4 Aspen Snowmass
Aspen Snowmass is actually a combination of four ski resorts around the town of Aspen and Snowmass Village. The four hills together, which consist of Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, cover a huge amount of terrain, rivaling Vail in sheer size.
Buttermilk Although it has a relatively small amount of ground, it is notorious for regularly hosting the Winter X games and has a high percentage of beginner and intermediate runs. Aspen Mountain, on the other hand, has no beginner runs, and Aspen Highlands is known for its advanced and expert runs, although it has beginner and intermediate runs. Snowmass , with over 3,000 acres of terrain, dominates the other areas in terms of size. It is largely a family oriented hill with great intermediate skiing. The base elevation is just over 8,100 feet and the summit elevation is just over 12,500 feet.
As a resort destination, Aspen has long been known for its high-wattage celebrity status. Many famous people ranging from Hollywood superstars to famous athletes own real estate in the area.
Snowmass is starting a new tradition this season, offering free s’mores daily between 3:30 and 4:30 am in the Base Village fire pits and at the Snowmass Mall.
Official Site: https://www.aspensnowmass.com/
Lodging: Where to Stay in Aspen
5 Beaver Creek Resort
Beaver Creek Resort | Photo Copyright: Lana Law
Owned by Vail Resorts, Beaver Creek Resort is located just a short distance down the highway from Vail. This resort is known for its high level of customer service, groomed slopes and a friendly atmosphere. Every afternoon at 3 p.m., the smell of freshly baked goodies wafts through the air like chocolate chip cookies, served by staff in chef’s hats, handed out to skiers coming down the hill and anyone else who happens to be walking around the base. Escalators take guests several flights of stairs from town to the chairlift, and attendants are always nearby to help weary and struggling skiers get their skis up the escalators and to the bus stop at the end of the day. The sidewalks of the city are heated, so there is never a buildup of ice.
The hill has the lowest elevation of the major resorts in the area, with a base elevation of 7,400 feet and a summit elevation of 11,400 feet, making it a good option for those flying up from lower elevations and concerned about altitude sickness. If you plan on a multi-day trip and visit several ski hills, starting at Beaver Creek will help mitigate the effects of altitude.
The town of Beaver Creek at the bottom of the hill is cute, with an outdoor skating rink in the center, along with good shops and restaurants. Further up the hill is the town of Avon which can also serve as a great base with a fine selection of restaurants and hotels. There are regular free shuttle buses that take guests from their hotels in Avon to Beaver Creek.
New this season is Red Buffalo Park, a new area with 200 acres of beginner terrain. To accommodate traffic to this new area, chair 5 has been upgraded to a high-speed elevator.
Official site: https://www.beavercreek.com
Lodging: Where to Stay in Beaver Creek
6 Purgatory Resort
Known as Durango Mountain Resort some time prior to 2015 , Purgatory Mountain Resort is a family-oriented ski hill located just outside of Durango, in the San Juan Mountains. This is largely a local mountain with a friendly atmosphere and old-world attitude, although the facilities are constantly being upgraded. It is also known for offering decent value, with reasonably priced lift tickets and amenities.
The terrain in Purgatory has traditionally been heavily skewed for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders, although those with advanced skills could always find places to challenge themselves. Ongoing expansions and improvements since 2015 are changing the dynamic, and this year the resort opened new intermediate and advanced level terrain and new areas for tree skiing.
Purgatory offers several accommodation options, but it is also possible to stay in Durango, which is about a 20-minute drive and commute. Durango, a former mining town, is now a tourist town with restored historic buildings along the downtown area, many hotels, good restaurants and a variety of ski shops.
Official Site: https://www.purgatoryresort.com/
7 Steamboat Ski Resort
Steamboat Ski Resort, at Steamboat Springs , is on its own, off the I-70 corridor and a fair distance from the other major ski areas in Colorado. The town of Steamboat has a strong Western heritage and cowboy culture that gives the area a casual and Wild West feel. The ski area is centered around Mount Werner, just outside of Steamboat Springs. The hill receives ample snow every year, with an average annual height of 334 inches, though it is not particularly high by Colorado standards. The elevation ranges from 6,900 feet at the base to 10,568 feet at the summit. At 2,965 acres, this is a large resort with lots of terrain. Steamboat is best known for its fantastic tree skiing.
Steamboat is a three-hour drive from Denver, but there is also an airport with direct flights from some of the major airports in the US.
Official site: https://www.steamboat.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Steamboat Springs
8 Keystone Resort
Keystone is unique in that it is spread over three mountains, each leading you further into the wilderness away from the resort. As a result, the deeper you go, the less crowded the skiing becomes. This is a large resort with 20 lifts and terrain for every ability, making it ideal for families. The runs on the first mountain, Decorum Mountain , are mainly groomed cruisers and beginner runs. Beyond this is North Peak with slightly more advanced terrain including moguls and steep drops. At the back is The Outback, with the resort’s tallest peak at just under 12,000 feet. This area is also designed for intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders. For those looking for even more adventure, the resort offers CAT skiing, access to a number of bowls.
New this season is a six-person high-speed elevator on the Montezuma Express and a serious expansion of Labonte’s Smokehouse BBQ, with a new menu and additional indoor seating for 190 people.
The cute mountain village of Keystone offers a variety of relaxed dining options after a day on the hill. The parking lot for Keystone is convenient and free, making the entire process of skiing a day at this resort simple and more affordable than some of the surrounding resorts, such as Vail, where parking is a premium, and the rates are correspondingly high.
Official site: https://www.keystoneresort.com
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Keystone
9 Arapahoe Basin
Usually known as ” A Basin ,”Arapahoe has the distinct advantage of being high.” Located on Loveland Pass, its summit elevation reaches 13,050 feet, allowing the resort to remain open into June, well past the April closing dates of surrounding resorts. mountains.Arapahoe has not traditionally been known for having an excessive amount of terrain, especially when compared to the surrounding Vail Resorts, but that is all changing.The resort is on a multi-year expansion.This year it opened part of the extension of the Beavers and Steep Gullies for “walk-to” skiing.
At Arapahoe you can expect beautiful open runs, some steep, others designed for beginners, and skiing on both sides of a ridge, meaning you can always find good conditions whatever the day. This can be a windy mountain, but usually one side or the other is sheltered on any given day.
The relaxed, fun, and old school atmosphere at Arapahoe is also one of the hill’s great attractions. On warm spring days, people set up their barbecues on picnic tables at the edge of the parking lot at the base of the hill and watch the skiers down the slopes. Kids, dogs and the whole family come out to enjoy the day whether skiing or not.
In addition to being the go-to place for spring skis in Colorado, it’s also easy to get to from Denver, great value for money, and included on several multi-day multi-day passes. Even if you’re not planning a full vacation to A-Basin, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re skiing some of the surrounding resorts. Keystone is a 10-minute drive from Arapahoe and 30 minutes from Breckenridge. If you’re staying in Silverthorne it’s a 20 minute drive and a little further if you’re staying in Frisco.
Official site: https://arapahoebasin.com/Abasin/Default.aspx
10 Copper Mountain
Copper Mountain is a family-oriented resort just over an hour from Denver. It has 23 lifts spread over 2,465 acres, so there’s plenty of terrain for skiers and snowboarders to explore and good carrying capacity. It has a decent mix of runs for all levels including advanced skiers. The facilities are modern and the skiing conditions are generally comparable to the rest of the local ski hills. The copper is tall, with a base elevation of 9,712 feet and a summit elevation of 12,313 feet.
The best new addition here is Koko’s Hut at the top of the new Koko Express elevator. This new lodge offers light snacks, seating for 200 people and a beautiful outdoor deck.
Official site: https://www.coppercolorado.com
Lodging: Where to Stay in Copper Mountain
11 Silverton Mountain
No article on skiing in Colorado is complete without a mention of Silverton Ski Resort. This ski hill is not for everyone, but it does offer a completely unique skiing experience that many people dream of. A lone old double chair lift takes skiers up the mountain to hike to the grounds. It’s essentially backcountry skiing with a lift. This hill is for intermediate and advanced skiers and snowboarders only . Everyone is equipped with avalanche gear before heading to the hill. The annual snowfall is over 400 centimeters, and there are no groomed slopes. The old school buses pick up skiers from where they are coming down the hill a mile or so up the road from the lodge and take them back to base.
The basic “lodge” is not much more than a self-made yurt with a tent deck. This isn’t a hill that screams fancy. What it does have is great skiing, a strong following of skiers who live for this kind of terrain, and an atmosphere like no other ski hill in Colorado, where everyone is pumped up for a great day of skiing and the rustic atmosphere has been embraced.
Official Site: https://silvertonmountain.com/
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Silverton
Other places to consider
Wolf Creek Ski Area , outside of Pagosa Springs in the state’s southwest, is a small ski operation known for massive amounts of snow during winter storms. It receives 430 inches of snow annually, much of which falls in large quantities at once. Close to the center of the state, Crested Butte is another favorite with skiers, but its remote location and distance from a major center takes some travel planning. There are all kinds of smaller or lesser-known resorts scattered throughout the state, many of which offer good value and can be perfect for families on a budget. Some ski areas to consider in this category are Winter Park , Loveland , Ski Cooper , andPowder Horn .
The best ski areas in North America and Europe
- Ski Utah : Just one state from Colorado you will find a whole different winter playground for skiers and snowboarders. Check out our article on the 9 top-rated ski resorts in Utah. Discover resorts just outside of Salt Lake City and those beyond.
- Ski Tahoe : Ever wondered what skiing is like in California? Check out the 8 best ski resorts in Lake Tahoe. There’s more to this area than just Squaw Valley.
- Skiing in the East : If you’re heading East this year, check out our article on the Top Ski Resorts on the East Coast for a complete rundown. For a more detailed look at the best ski resorts in each state, check out our articles on the top-rated ski resorts in Vermont, the top-rated ski resorts in New Hampshire, and the top-rated ski resorts in Michigan.
- Ski Canada : Check out the best ski resorts in Canada from coast to coast.
- Ski Europe : From the Alps and the Pyrenees to the Dolomites, discover new terrain to test your skills on the hills. Let our Top-Rated Ski Resorts in Italy, Top-Rated Ski Resorts in France and Top-Rated Ski Resorts in Switzerland help you decide on your next European winter holiday.